Nevada enters this year's Battle for the Fremont Cannon as big favorites.
The Wolf Pack is a nearly two-touchdown favorite to beat UNLV on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at Allegiant Stadium in the first college game in the first-year stadium. William Hill has Nevada as a 13-point favorite with an over/under of 58.
Nevada opened its season with a 37-34 overtime win over Wyoming while UNLV was pasted by San Diego State, 34-6, and failed to cross 200 yards of offense while using three quarterbacks in Marcus Arroyo's debut as head coach. This will be Arroyo's first game in the Battle for the Fremont Cannon. Nevada's Jay Norvell is looking to get back to .500 in the series after the Wolf Pack lost its last two games to the Rebels, both as favorites.
"It's always a special thing when you get to play UNLV and you get to play for the Fremont Cannon," Norvell said on Sunday's Wolf Pack All Access. "I've been here three years and all three of the games have been wild back-and-forth rivalry-type games. It's like all the rivalry games I've been a part of. You throw out the record. You throw out the predictions and you've just got to play the game. Eliminating your mistakes is going to be really important. Playing to our strengths is going to be really important. And it's going to be a reflection of how we're trying to approach this season with this team. We want to throw the drama out, and we want to execute and go down there and play our best football game, continue to improve on the things we made mistakes on in this first game and really apply them in this second game."
Nevada built a 22-point lead against Wyoming before the Cowboys forced things into overtime. Finishing games has been an issue for Nevada against UNLV, which beat the Wolf Pack in overtime last season after the Rebels rallied out of a 23-point deficit in 2018 to upend Nevada in the biggest comeback in the series' history. The Wolf Pack has aspirations of reaching its first Mountain West title game this season, and a loss to UNLV, one of the lower-rated teams in the conference, would be hugely detrimental to that cause.
"We're treating this season like a playoff," Norvell said. "It's a different challenge every week. Every game has its own unique characteristics. And this one certainly has its own characteristics. We're playing UNLV. It's an in-state rival. We're playing in their new stadium. There is going to be a lot of excitement about that. We're excited to play them down there. And we have the cannon on the line. We want to get the cannon back. It's very important to us and our program. We're excited. It's a good step for us."
Nevada opens the season against three teams that beat it last year, including Wyoming, Utah State and UNLV. The Wolf Pack has avenged the first of those three losses with two more to come.
"These first three games are against opponents we got beat by last year, so we've prided ourselves on correcting our issues when we lose," Norvell said. "We did it against Wyoming. I really think we did some things a lot better than we did a year ago. We protected the quarterback better. We blocked them better. We were more efficient offensively against Wyoming. And we have to go down to UNLV and make similar corrections to the way we played last year. We have to finish. We haven't done that the last two years, and we're going to have to correct that this week."